Conservative Dartford puts on great family events. Here’s your guide.
By Richard Wells, Councillor and Town resident.
Since we first entered the civic centre with a pledge to focus on the community, not politics, our Conservative council has created loads of great events (most of them FREE) for local people. Some events have been ‘one-offs’ to celebrate particular anniversaries but most have now become regular dates in the calendar.
With so many other councils cutting and cancelling our message is simple – Please don’t take all our FREE family events for granted.
The truth is, very few other councils do what we do and we simply don’t believe they will all carry on if we’re not here to create, run and innovate them.
So, if you’re one of the tens of thousands who has ever settled into a free deckchair for a Sunday concert at our bandstand, tucked into a picnic at Shakespeare in the Park performed at our outdoor theatre, sang along to Grease or Mamma Mia at Cinema in the Park, danced to Jason Donovan, Midge Ure or The Blockheads at the Dartford Festival, sung carols in the open air or carried your flag with pride on St. George’s Day then please remember that not all councils do this stuff!
And if you’ve got kids, perhaps they have taken part in one of our brilliant High Street parades, entered a painting for the Summer Exhibition or been spooked at our FREE halloween parties, climbed aboard our vintage fire engine or taken part in one of hundreds of Summer Sizzler events we put on during the school holidays.
We love putting all these events but PLEASE don’t take them for granted. It’s Conservative colleagues who have been the driving force behind everything from the Bandstand concerts to Theatre in the Park and without us, who knows what would happen?
Here’s my guide to the great calendar of events we provide or support.
Still free and still fabulous. Not really much doubt about which is the ‘top dog’ of Dartford’s FREE events. Two days in July see tens of thousands of festival goers flock to Central Park to be entertained by local bands, community groups and classic headliners including The Jam’s Bruce Foxton, Peter Hook, Midge Ure, Westlife’s Bryan McFadden, Toyah, The Blockheads & Jason Donovan. Other Councils may be cutting and cancelling their festivals but we’re determined to make the Dartford Festival bigger, better and more ‘community’ every year.
Remember… ‘Other Councils charge for this stuff, we do it for FREE!’
Sunday Bandstand Concerts in the Park
One of the nicest ways to while away an afternoon. We put on a full programme of FREE traditional band concerts every Summer Sunday ( except for Festival weekend ) and even the deckchairs are FREE. Bring a picnic or visit the cafe and listen to the Band. the Sir Henry Wellcome Bandstand may look like it’s been there for decades but we built and opened in 2010. There’s a great video on youtube of its construction here.
Theatre in the Park
As You (seem to) Like It we’ll go on putting on performances of Shakespeare and other classic plays at the Central Park Outdoor Theatre we built in 2016. We also take the common-sense step of charging just £5 a ticket if you’re a Dartford resident. Bring a rug or a picnic chair, and a picnic and settle down for a fabulous evening of entertainment. The Outdoor Theatre season runs from late-July to August.
The Trevithick Steam Fair
We fund and support this amazing event run by Colin Wheeler and his band of volunteers and steam enthusiasts. One of the best days out anywhere in the region, The Steam Fair features scores of vintage vehicles, steam engineering and heavyweight traction engines. A great weekend for the whole family with plenty to do and plenty of ‘hands on’ experiences with classic vehicles and machinery.
Cinema in the Park
Other councils charge a fortune for Cinema in the Park but that’s not how Dartford rolls! We distribute more than 3,000 FREE tickets every late Summer to see classic movies and the newest blockbusters. It’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Greatest Showman this year! The evenings are some of the most atmospheric and enjoyable of all the events we deliver. Tickets are in high demand and rarely last more than a day or so after release – and there’s a healthy market for returns! Always fun.
Did you REALLY think that Conservative Dartford was going to be one of those killjoy councils that ignored St.George’s Day? Of course not. We have a annual parade, give out St.George’s flags and even roped in local tradespeople for a viral video of Jerusalem! It’s a HUGE day in Dartford’s calendar and we stop at nothing to promote civic and national pride.
Festival of Light
Schools from all over Dartford work on lanterns for weeks before parading through the town to celebrate a Festival of Light. One of the most stunning events of the year and simply magical.
No child should miss out on a visit to Santa but Conservative Dartford realised that some commercial grottos are simply unaffordable and beyond the reach of many ordinary families. So, we stepped in to provide the BEST local experience of all – for less than a tenner. Hugely popular. Kids experience an hour long visit to Santa’s Dartford Mansion House as he prepares for his busiest day of the year and meet the elves and helpers who make Christmas happen. There’s things to make, a party with cakes and balloons and Santa’s staff to meet before entering the office of the great man himself and spending precious moments with Santa.
Carols in the Park at Christmas
The only thing certain about the weather in mid December is the uncertainty. We started our annual carol concert nearly a decade ago. It’s outdoors, often cold but always fun.
Traditional and faithful to the true spirit of Christmas. Tickets are FREE and always popular. The concert really is the ONLY way to start the lead-in to Christmas.